My mom has a big birthday coming up this month so a memorable gift was in order. When I was in college in Boston the two of us would spend a weekend each winter in Vermont. We hadn’t been in years so I treated her this past three-day weekend with a stay at the Fan House, a precious B&B in Barnard, Vermont. Whenever I go to Vermont I’m reminded how the simplest things in life can sometimes be the most satisfying. Some highlights of our trip:

1) Out of all of the amazing dishes Sara Widness, the gracious owner of the Fan House, cooked for breakfast each morning, my favorite was also the least complicated: a baked Granny Smith apple with a scoop of vanilla yogurt. I forgot how good a baked apple tastes in the winter. It inspired me to come home and try a few twists on such an easy, healthy dish.

2) A day cross-country skiing in two-feet of fresh snow on the trails of Mount Tom and the Woodstock Inn & Resort ski center erased any remaining NYC stress I had brought with me.

3) Two years ago my mom and I attended Live Well New York, an expo featuring healthy-lifestyle products and organic foods. We picked up a sample of Vermont Morning organic hot cereal and absolutely loved it but were never able to find it again. I spied it on a shelf at the Village Butcher in Woodstock. I think the find made my mom’s birthday. She bought two huge pound-and-a-half bags to last her the rest of the winter.

4) I could spend hours browsing the aisles of Gillingham’s general store in Woodstock. Their hermit cookies are sinfully good.

5) The paper-thin-crusted, Tuscan-style pizza at Pane e Salute, a 22-seat, husband-and-wife-run restaurant and wine bar in Woodstock, is some of the best I’ve ever tasted and their roast chicken with fennel pollen is equally delicious. The impressive, all-Italian wine list is far from simple – it’s totally unexpected for a tiny Vermont restaurant.